The relevance of follow-up singles as instruments that sustain the momentum for an album is becoming questionable at best these days. Digital music stores (iTunes etc) and on-demand streaming services such as Spotify give music listeners instant access to an album soon after its release. Hence, the element of surprise and excitement that is associated with an album’s lead single does not translate well to the follow-up singles. This is a shame – especially if the follow-up singles are better than the lead single. This is most definitely applicable in the case of the new Robbie Williams single “Be A Boy“.
In recent years, Robbie Williams has managed to polarize his fanbase by moving away from an indie-rock musical template to a lush electronic pop format. On “Rudebox“, he faltered a little with this approach but on “Reality Killed The Video Star”, he absolutely nailed it. While some (me included) consider “Reality Killed The Video Star” to be his career masterpiece, many fans claimed that they longed for the “old Robbie”. It looks like their complaints were heard by the man himself. His new album “Take The Crown” is an unapologetic return to the sound that dominated albums such as “Intensive Care“, and “Escapology“. This could be disappointing for those that liked the direction Robbie Williams had pursued in his last two albums. Fortunately, Williams has left a little in the album for this breed of fans.
“Be A Boy”, the first track on “Take The Crown“, could have fit seamlessly into the musical template of “Reality Killed The Video Star“. It is a mid-tempo electronic pop track with a “sing out loud” chorus. It opens with a saxophone section (very reminiscent of the saxophone section in the Middle 8 of INXS’ 1993 hit “Beautiful Girl“) layered over an electronic beat. This is quickly followed by the “Oh Oh Oh” vocal section that has this ability to give an additional dose of life to a song. The tune in the verses is somewhat lackluster but just as the post-intro excitement of the song is about to dissipate, Robbie Williams breaks into his addictive pre-chorus.
“They said it was leaving me
The magic was leaving me
I don’t think so
I don’t think so”
It is safe to say that the pre-chorus stands a greater chance of lingering in the heads of listeners than the actual chorus does. The quirkiness of Williams’ personality shines through the lyrics of the song (e.g. “There’s safety in the jungle If you treat it like a toy”). In a nutshell, “Be A Boy” is everything a Robbie Williams fan would expect. It is by no means flawless but it comes pretty close. We would have been a little more flattering with the review if only Williams had not set the standards as high as he did with his 2009 album “Reality Killed The Video Star“. We most certainly have not heard the last of Robbie Williams! Here is a full-length video clip of “Be A Boy” by Robbie Williams:
RADIO ALERT: We might be one of the few American radio stations that plays Robbie Williams’ music regularly. We are definitely the ONLY radio station in the world that plays his rare gems (b-sides, covers, album tracks). Currently, “Be A Boy” by Robbie Williams is getting 5 plays a day on our radio station. Listen to our station from ANY part of the world via the button below.